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If you're looking to subscribe to the Switch Online premium service day one, Nintendo has revealed when, exactly, the service will go live later today. You'll need to update your console's firmware first but, after that, you'll be ready to roll with online gaming, an NES classics library and more.
The Nintendo blog recently rolled out a maintenance notice for today, Sept. 18, explaining that behind-the-scenes preparation must be done in order to get everything ready for system update version 6.0.0. Nintendo said the plan is to make the update available at about 5 p.m. PT and, after that, the eShop will be under maintenance for "a brief period of time." During that time, you won't be able to log onto the eShop to make purchases, including buying a subscription to the Switch Online service.
While things could always change, Nintendo goes on to say the expected downtime for the eShop is until about 8 p.m. PT, so "brief" is shaping up to be about three hours. In other words, you might as well consider the launch date for Switch Online to be tomorrow if you live on the East coast, as Nintendo doesn't expect to have things ready to roll until 11 p.m. tonight.
Once the eShop update is complete, you'll be able to hop onto the eShop or Nintendo.com and purchase a subscription to Switch Online. If you're in the middle of a game when the eShop update is complete, it sounds like your online activity will come crashing to a halt, so be sure to keep an eye on the clock if you're gaming tonight (unless you're playing Fortnite). It would be a shame to be in the middle of a hotly contested round of Splatoon 2 only to have the online paywall come crashing down midway through the competition. Or, worse yet, be moments away from bringing down a particularly tough beast in Monster Hunter Generations Ultimate with your crew and have the rug pulled out from under you.
Either way, the quick (and now only) solution will be to grab a subscription to Nintendo's online service for either $3.99 a month, $7.99 for three months or $19.99 for a year. There's also a family plan supporting up to eight accounts for $35 a year.
On top of online gaming, the premium program will grant cloud backup for your saves, though you'll definitely want to keep an eye on your subscription. As Nintendo has stated, your cloud saves will go bye-bye if you ever let your subscription lapse. It's always possible they'll alter that stipulation to be more forgiving but, for now, that's what we have to work with.
Your subscription will also grant access to exclusive offers, such as the ability to buy a pair of NES controllers for your Switch.